Tuesday, June 24, 2014

NorthFork 50 preview

When I first started writing a couple years ago I never really thought I'd get to the day where I'd be doing final prep for my first 50miler.

You paid money to run 50 miles?
It seemed like such an abstract thing that would happen in the future at some point, not something that was going to happen this Saturday at 7am. The realness of it all sunk in this past weekend as I prepared a novel length email for my friend Kate who is schlepping me to and from the race. I calculated estimated times for aid stations in case she wanted to catch me on the course and then it hit me, come Saturday I'd be actually doing it.

This past weekend was a flurry of errands. Here's what I got:

  • 12 gels (10 Gu brand, 2 Honey Stinger fruit smoothie because they are delicious)
  • 6 packs of gu chomps various flavors some with caffeine
  • smokey tempeh (for protein in my drop bag)
  • salmon jerky (for protein in my drop bag)
  • a cheap watch (because I lost my other one)
  • KT tape - I don't know if I'll use it or not, but it was on sale at Target
  • gallon zipper close plastic baggies
  • blister bandaid strips
  • sunscreen.

I wanted to have something to look forward to eat in my drop bags. Unfortunately it's tough when you're at an aid station and the only protein options is turkey or peanut butter. I've eaten tempeh "bacon" during ultimate tournaments before it provided the right amount of salty, chewy, protein that I needed. I figured it'd be worth a shot and I don't really  need to worry about keeping it cold. I've got a couple other things on my list to get but I put a good dent on Saturday.

Unfortunately my body is rebelling against me right now and I'm trying to fight off the early stages of a cold (stuffy nose, scratchy throat etc). I purchased some zinc tablets and some throat lozenges and have been pounding those and Vitamin C, here's hoping for a full recovery before Saturday.

I went through the race website and put together all the info regarding elevation, turn by turn navigation, course map, estimated times etc. I'm going to make a pace card for myself to show me at each aid station what the estimated time should be for a 10hr race (ohhh how ambitious!) a 12hr race (the goal) and a 14hr race (the cut offs). I figured a 10hr estimation would give me some motivation or remind me to slow down a bit if I'm going to fast. Also I want to make sure I can actually spend some time in the aid stations so this give me an idea of when I need to be heading back out on the course.

Course Thoughts

I've been able to run a few sections of the course now which will be a big help. In total I've run about 38 miles of the 50mile course. There are some good climbs, but nothing compared to what you see at Quad Rock. The total elevation gain is 7,350 feet over the course of the race.  Here's what it looks like:

So pretty consistent up and down with a long downhill at the end. The race is almost entirely on single track with a few "service road" type sections that don't take up too much of the course. I remember the downhills being really fast and fun and I can't wait to stretch out my legs on them. Ideally I will have run a smart enough race I'll be able to run the section between the Meadows (miles 22.3 through 31.9) and final downhill. The climb from Buffalo Creek to Homestead isn't crazy steep, but it's long and I remember feeling tired doing it during the last training run.

There's some pretty hot, exposed sections of the course due to the two large wildfires that cut through the area in the past. I've been warned by a lot of past runners that these sections are hot, long and brutal. Especially during the heat of the day. I haven't settled on exactly how I am going to handle these sections, but I have some thoughts.

  • A hat, I'm going to wear a hat, probably for most of the race. 
  • A camelbak, I never got a fancy new hydration pack, but I've been running with the trusty camelbak for awhile now and it's been fine. I thought about just doing a water bottle since the aid stations are close enough to refuel, but I'd rather have more water, maps, food then needed and the extra water can be doused on my hat and put on my head for a quick cook down.
  • Bandannas, I am thinking of packing some in the drop bags to dunk in water at aid stations or put ice in if they have it to get through some hot sections.

Temps are looking good for the day, the high is 74 and the low is 46. There are no storms predicted, but it's Colorado so it will for sure rain/thunder/hail at some point during the race. Perhaps I'll get lucky and it will be on another part of the course, or perhaps I will get lucky and the rain will come as I run through the burn areas. I'm also packing a lot of salt pills and will be taking those often.

Additional Gear thoughts:

I am still figuring out what to wear on race day. I've really enjoyed my new patagonia shorts, their pockets are good and they  have a nice back pocket which my old ones do not. I do think it would be wise not to try and shove M&Ms in the butt pocket despite their thick candy shell.

I think you're brain has a thick candy shell
I bought some additional icebreaker shirts/tanks and will likely pack a tank in one of my drop bags but start out wearing a shirt and probably arm warmers if it is in the low 40s at the start time. I am going to pack in my camelbak or in my drop bags the following:

  •  a jacket 
  • ankle brace
  • long sleeve
  • extra socks
  • winter hat
  • gloves 
  • maybe pants. I highly doubt I'll need pants, but it's better to have them in a drop bag just in case.

So really, my ultimate goal for this race is to finish. It's my first 50miler and crossing the finish line will be the best thing ever. I'm sure I'll be all weird and emotional when I get to the paved path around the lake at the very end, knowing that I can stumble into the finish. Finishing will be huge, really that's the biggest and most important goal for me.  I do have some secondary goals:
  • Finish in 12 hrs. I think with my training this is doable. If I feel good I see no reason why I can't make this happen
  • Focus on my self and not get distracted. As we'd say on Molly Brown "IRRELEVANT", I'm going to focus on me, running, food and liquids. I am not going to worry about other runners or other people on the course and just be there because ultimately it's my two legs that will do the race.
  • Not throw-up. I don't like throwing up and that just sounds really unpleasant.
  • Drink a beer at the last aid station - Andy Jung said he'd have a cold one waiting. Hopefully by completing this goal I won't fail at the preceding goal.
  • Be proud of myself, no matter what happens I'm proud that I took on this challenge.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Getting rid of setbacks, it's ok to divert

Life is full of things that get in the way of the plan, or sometimes even things that completely blow your plan up into little pieces. Thankfully for me my most recent occurrence is the former and not the latter, but it can still be frustrating.

Against my better judgment, as the start of any good story begins, I played ultimate last week. I was at a tryout for a team called Mesteno and stupidly rolled my ankle.

I say "stupidly" because I didn't roll it doing something awesome. I did it after I stopped and went to turn around to go back in line. I have pretty loose ankles, but I felt a pop as it happened. I immediately felt pain, hobbled over to the sideline and put it up with ice. The ice in this case was an ice block and a Tecate compliments of Tower. Tower made me drink the Tecate that was on my foot later, which I was ok with.

I rested a bit and then my next stupid decision was to go out and play more. It actually felt ok. I could "feel" it, but it wasn't hurting me to do normal frisbee motions. I iced more when I got home and did the typical athelete self diagnosis of looking up "how to treat a rolled ankle" on the internet. From my research I think I have a mild sprain. There wasn't significant swelling, but there's a little bruising. So ice, arnica, and rest. I'm not going to lie, it hurt the next day, but at least it didn't really look any worse.

It's been almost a week now and I'm happy to report that things are doing better in the ankle department. I purchased a beefy ankle brace for future ultimate endeavors which, if anything, puts my mind at ease. I went on a long training run on Saturday (22miles) at the race course and it felt fine. There were little pains here and there, but nothing more than the usual. The run allowed me lots of time to think about what happened is I realized that I hate the term "setback".

I don't like the word setback. On face value it oozes negativity. Hearing setback makes me immediately think,  "it's going to set you back and that's bad". In reality, training is full of things that divert you from the exact plan; weather, sickness, injury, or forgetting your shoes. When something happens that disrupts training it's too easy to focus on the negative and what happened. It's most important to focus on what you can do in the moment and in the future. On Molly Brown we talked a lot about relevance/irrelevance, or things we have control over and things we don't. Being able to separate it out and realign your focus into what you can do in that moment means you're thinking with a forward motion in mind. It's irrelevant to focus on rolling my ankle, it is relevant for me to focus on how to protect it in the future and how I can heal myself to get out and start running again. Dwelling on it as a setback only focuses on what happened. I would rather focus on what can I do next.

The word setback immediately sounds like focusing on the past, or focusing on something I cannot change. Even saying the word implies the past. I can't change that I hurt my ankle, but I can focus on what to do today and tomorrow to continue to prepare for my race. So I took a day off, I kept icing, I bought a brace, then I put socks on, laced up my shoes, and ran.

Rolling my ankle caused me to modify my training for a few days, but there are countless other things that have done that throughout the course of my running career. Saying setback means I can't move forward, but acknowledging that sometimes things disrupt your training gives you the control to keep moving forward. Therefore I don't see this as a setback, I just see it as training. Just as a thunderstorm keeping you inside for the afternoon, or a deadline at work that has to get done when you're training for a race it's all part of the package. Maybe that's why training programs are so long, because we all know that at least once or twice you're week plan is going to get thrown and you have to adapt.

*I'm less than a month out from race day!